Valentine’s Day in Italy, Featuring Terni – A Hidden Treasure

By:  Joanne Natale Spigonardo

February 14, 2022

The origins of Valentine’s Day come from the beautiful city of Terni.  Terni is located in the northern part of Umbria, in the region of Perugia.  Like the rest of Italy, it has a wealth of history and antiquity.  It is the birthplace of Saint Valentine.  He was born in 226 AD and was martyred in Rome in 269 AD.  He is buried in the Basilica di San Valentino, in Terni.

San Valentino, Patron Saint of Love

Saint Valentine was a bishop who performed clandestine marriages for Christians who were being persecuted.  He also helped Christians escape from prison. He is known as the saint of love for this reason, and his love of love led to his own death.  Many couples go to Terni to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but it is also a day that many Italians get engaged and has become a tradition for couples globally. 

Homage to St. Valentine

In Italy, Valentine’s Day is for lovers, you send a Valentine to your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, and spouse.  It is not a tradition to send general Valentine’s to everyone.  Normally, an Italian Valentine’s Day will include a romantic dinner, wine, chocolates, and beautiful flowers, and usually roses. Roses were identified with the Greek and Roman Goddess of love, Aphrodite.  The red rose is the symbol of love for that reason. Other origins of Valentine’s Day also date back to the fertility festival in Roman times, called Lupercalia.

The Ciocolattino Festival on Valentine’s Day in Terni

The Feast of Saint Valentine’s Day was first celebrated in the 5th Century on February 14 and has remained as the date to celebrate Saint Valentine and love. In Terni, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with beautiful parades and festivals.  Many flock to see the remains of Saint Valentine, in the Basilica di San Valentino, and hope for a special blessing from him to have their love last. Terni, also has a Marathon race on Valentine’s Day where runners wear love laden regalia with hearts and flowers and dedicate the race to their lover.  Terni has beautiful street fairs with cicollattini bancarelle – which means – chocolate vendor stalls that sell magnificent chocolates that are in all shapes and many of them are life sized symbols of love. Hope you will put Terni on your bucket list for a special Valentine’s Day in the future.

Terni, Marathon of Love

About the Author:

Joanne has many years of experience in travel to Italy, Italian art, literature, film, history, wine, and cuisine. She is a lover of nature and beauty.  She is an advocate for Italian immigrant women, and the author of White Widow, which is available on Amazon.  For more information about Joanne please visit her LinkedIn page:

Published by spigonaj

Joanne Spigonardo Business Development Consultant Specializing in Sustainability, Higher Education, Career Management, and Public Relations In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton. Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative. Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture. As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels. Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn. At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton. Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants.

4 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day in Italy, Featuring Terni – A Hidden Treasure

  1. I just found your blog and thoroughly enjoyed your posts. I loved traveling through Italy, each town and region so unique and so beautiful. Although I have been 4 times, I have yet to go south of Rome. So far, my favorite city was Padua…stunning!


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